One of the fun things about the end of the year is all the year-end baseball lists. We’re halfway through our long, dark, baseball-less winter, so it’s a fun time to look back on the season that was.
Over at The Athletic, Grant Brisbee — who is an outstanding writer and a good dude, even if he did have the extreme misfortune of being born a Giants fan — put together a list of the worst performances of 2022 in a lot of different categories. The Dodgers appear in one of them, but don’t worry — they were on the good side.
Worst Managerial Decision: Tony La Russa, White Sox vs. Dodgers, June 9
Tony La Russa was always a bad idea for the White Sox. They have a young team that needs the deft touch of a modern baseball mind, and La Russa was … not that. He turned 79 on the penultimate day of the regular season, but he wasn’t around the team to see it because he’d already retired due to health concerns. His second tour with the White Sox was an ignominious end to a Hall of Fame career, and it made it even harder to remember just how cutting-edge La Russa used to be.
On June 9, La Russa ordered an intentional walk to Trea Turner, who was down in the count, 1-2. It was to get a left-on-left matchup against Max Muncy, which you can understand, even if Muncy has never had problems with lefties in his career, sure. But Turner had two strikes on him. There were two outs. After getting to a 1-2 count, Turner has been a .223/.271/.339 hitter, which is roughly Johnnie LeMaster’s career batting line. After getting in a 1-2 hole, Trea Turner ceases to be Trea Turner. He becomes “smol bean trea turner,” and he should be treated accordingly.
And then Brisbee shares this tweet:
Intentionally walk the batter to get to Muncy? Bad idea. pic.twitter.com/L2Z7fh2DKm
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) June 9, 2022
I just love the way your mind can see the question mark bubbling out of Joe Davis’s mouth on the word “intentionally.” It was a terrible decision by La Russa, and it would have been a terrible decision even if it hadn’t backfired so magnificently. I don’t know about you, but I remember exactly where I was when that play happened. I was sitting in my car, watching the game on my phone in the parking lot by the baseball field at Stansbury High School in Stansbury Park, Utah, watching the game while my son and his teammates warmed up for their American Legion summer-league baseball game. (Here’s a link to the exact parking spot I was in at the time, if you’re curious.)
For some reason, this moment became a core memory for me, bumping the time I dared my brother to throw a big rock through the front window of our house and he said “No, you” and I said “Okay” and threw the big rock through the front window of our house. Sorry, bonehead 5-year-old me, you’re going to the memory dump thanks to bonehead 78-year-old Tony La Russa.
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